NORTH AMERICA: On the growth trajectory
“The next phase of the country’s economic recovery will depend in large part on how reliable our infrastructure will be to support new growth and activity. Commercial aviation makes a tremendous economic impact across virtually all sectors, and dedicated investment is long overdue, especially in our nation’s airports,” said Kevin M. Burke, Airports Council International-North America’s (ACI-NA) president and CEO in response to U.S President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address. “ACI-NA agrees with President Obama prioritizing the country’s infrastructure needs, which must include upgrading U.S. airports so that they exceed the rest of the world,” he added. The key driver for airport infrastructure projects is demand as well as growth opportunity for freight carriers. North American airports have been keeping a watchful eye on the cargo market, not only the major freight carriers but also with freight forwarders, in order to match demand and make air cargo more efficient by combining it with intermodal methods of transporting goods. “From a cargo perspective, Dallas/FortWorth has brought in new freighter service from AirBridgeCargo, the Russia-based carrier, with two flights a week to Amsterdam and Moscow, along with three weekly Cargolux flights to Milan. The new services fall within DFW’s strategy to expand its cargo offerings and provide more lift to the central United States,” said David Magana of Dallas/FortWorth International Airport (DFW). Key markets for DFW include Asia, Europe and the Middle East/Persian Gulf region, as well as new service to South America. DFW International Airport offers advantages over the traditional coastal cargo airports in terms of logistics, access to the great population regions of the central United States, access to intermodal means of transportation, favorable climate, and a lack of flight curfews. DFW is also the largest cargo hub in Texas, which is now the leading state for international cargo. North America’s top cargo airport is FedEx’s hub, Memphis. The airport was the undisputed world leader in cargo operations in terms of volume for almost 18 years. Though it fell into second position worldwide in 2010, to Hong Kong, it remained the busiest cargo airport in the United States. Major national and international distribution facilities for Flextronics, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sharp and many others have located in Memphis largely to be near the FedEx hub. Montreal-Trudeau Airport is another major North American hub for trans-Atlantic traffic. With over 30 destinations served, Montreal-Trudeau has one of the most extensive network on the North Atlantic. As a natural gateway between North America and Europe, the region plans to further take advantage of its geographic positioning with the upcoming liberalised trade agreements between Canada and the European Union. Montreal airports have the capability of handling more cargo. “With a newly created cargo zone and addition of six international gates planned for 2016, Montreal-Trudeau is modernizing its facility to improve its offering to belly hold carriers and keep up with the ever increasing passenger and cargo volumes. Montreal-Mirabel, operating as a fully dedicated cargo facility, offers flexibility needed for freighters. With no curfew, available slots and heavy lift handling equipment, this airport is able to handle all volumes and types of main deck cargo,” said Pierre Valiquette, representative-air service development, Aeroports de Montreal. The North American cargo market is largely based on truck and train transport, so connectivity to intermodal means of transportation is critical to the success and expansion of air cargo. Airports that have superb access to major highways can offer a great advantage to shippers looking to reach the greatest central portion of the US geographically. “We are currently working to enhance its roadway access for cargo even further, completing a roadway widening project designed to facilitate access to another highway from the west side cargo facilities on the airport,” added Magana of DFW International Airport. With air cargo volume projected to increase in Anchorage in the coming years ahead, airport planners in Alaska’s largest city are eyeing Fairbanks as a possible outlet for that growth. Anchorage is a powerhouse in the air cargo market, handling the second-highest volume of cargo among U.S. airports with nearly 220,000 daily takeoffs and landings per year. “Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) is located 9.5 hours from 90% of the industrialized world which provides FAI and its sister airport Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC) with a competitive advantage over other North American airports for international tech stop cargo,” Jesse VanderZanden, AAE Airport Manager at FAI said. FAI serves as the diversionary airport for ANC which is the sixth largest cargo airport in the world and a critical component of the Asian cargo network. “Winter tourism is a new and rapidly growing market. There is an annual international ice art championship, dog and snow machine races, hot springs and many other unique winter events and activities,” he added. TThe Alaska International Airport System (ANC and FAI) has a cargo and passenger incentive program that allows a waiver of landing fees for new and/or expanded air service to markets not currently served. Meanwhile, U.S-based American Airlines (AA) Cargo, a division of American Airlines, provides daily scheduled cargo lift to major cities throughout the world. “The North American market certainly plays an important role. As an example of our commitment to U.S. domestic business, last year, we opened and expanded cargo service in nine new domestic cities. We also continue to find ways to make it easier for our customers to do business with us,” said Roger Samways, managing director - cargo global accounts and sales strategy, American Airlines Cargo. American Airlines Cargo’s domestic and global network continues to grow, and as an airline, it is focused on driving operational excellence that will ensure our fleet maintains a high level of reliability and on-time performance. “We’re also taking delivery of almost two new aircraft every week, and by the time we finish, we’ll have the largest, youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet among U.S. carriers,” he added. These investments in its fleet and network allow the carrier to carry more cargo to more places. Latin America continues to be one of the strongest performing regions for the carrier. It is also seeing success connecting China and Latin America, and its new service between Seoul (ICN) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) has been performing well. Considered one the biggest natural harbors in the world, the port of New York/New Jersey is by tonnage the third largest in the United States and the busiest on the East Coast. The New York / New Jersey Air Cargo Center is unique among the world's air gateways, not only in the size, scope and volume of activities, but also because it includes four separate airports, interconnected by a vast road and rail network. It is the most extensive air-surface-seaport complex in the world - nearly 20 percent of all air cargo imported to the U.S. travels through John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). When ranked by the value of shipments passing through it, the port is the number two freight gateway in the United States. There are two foreign-trade zones (FTZ) within the port: FTZ 1, the first in the nation, established in 1937, on the New York side of the port; and FTZ 49, on the New Jersey side. Even as the freight market is still recovering from the global economic crisis, North American airports and airlines continue to innovate and adapt in a bid to maximize their cargo potential.